Thursday, November 4, 2010

We Have Moved!

We have moved to a new website. Click on the link below to find the weather chat, live radar, and other useful information:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tornado Recap From Wednesday

Several tornadoes touched down in central Virginia Wednesday, most of which have not been officially rated yet. But the damage is clear in much of the areas affected with tree branches twisted off at the top and thrown in all directions from the rotation onto houses and cars. It's incredible that no one was injured in these storms during the late afternoon, a time when many people are coming home from work or are out and about doing late afternoon/evening chores and activities. Despite the damage, we are fortunate to have had no losses of life in this severe weather event Wednesday.

(Photo Matt Segal, Mechanicsville)
The first tornado of Wednesday, October 27th occurred while most people were sleeping in rural Mecklenburg County. A tornado-warned isolated thunderstorm produced an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale at 3:14 a.m. five miles north of Skipwith, VA. The National Weather Service storm survey team concluded their investigation this morning with the following statement:

We are awaiting the rest of the official ratings on the other tornado reports. Here are the preliminary NWS reports from yesterday, which are unrated:
0442 PM: TORNADO, 2 NE BOWLING GREEN (Caroline Co)


0550 PM: TORNADO, 2 E KING WILLIAM (King William Co).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Tornado Watch Issued For Wednesday Afternoon

A Tornado Watch is in effect for most of central Virginia until 8 p.m. as a strong cold front advances into the area from the west. Ahead of the front, our atmosphere is ripe for thunderstorm development with unseasonably warm afternoon heating into the 80s, rich low-level moisture, ample lift from the approaching cold front, and wind shear. All of these factors are creating an environment conducive to severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts to 70 mph, isolated tornadoes, large hail up to an inch in diameter, frequent lightning, and torrential downpours. Our threat will likely continue beyond 8 p.m. into the early morning hours Thursday. We'll be in the clear once the cold front passes into far southeast Virginia by mid-morning. Until then, we'll be monitoring the severe threat round the clock. Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.

Tornado Watch Expires Early

A Tornado Watch that was to be in effect until 10AM for much of central Virginia has been allowed to expire early as the severe threat diminishes. Conditions were favorable earlier this morning for severe thunderstorms, and we did have several warnings that tracked from Southwest Virginia into Mecklenburg and Lunenburg Counties between 3 and 4 a.m. Wind damage has been reported in Mecklenburg County along Route 58 and also 5 Miles North of Skipwith, VA. In that location, law enforcement observed twisted treetops and tree damage in a mile long path near the intersection of Skipwood Road and New Hope Road. Numerous trees and powerlines are down in that area. A tornado has not yet been confirmed. The setup for severe weather will continue this afternoon and overnight while ample moisture remains in the Mid-Atlantic ahead of a strong approaching cold front. While a large, intense low pressure system spins over the Great Lakes region, ample lift will be provided for storm development later today and tonight in our region. The cold front associated with this low pressure system is moving into the Commonwealth today, potentially triggering more storms. It looks like we'll have several rounds of thunderstorms, including our first from earlier this morning, another one late this afternoon, and a final round overnight into early Thursday morning. Threats include isolated tornadoes, damaging wind gusts to 70 mph, and large hail. Torrential downpours and frequent lightning can accompany these storms as well.

Tornado Watch Until 10 AM

A Tornado Watch is in effect until 10AM for much of central Virginia, where conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms this morning. Ample moisture has been surging northward into the Mid-Atlantic for a couple days, making our atmosphere unseasonably warm and humid. While a large, intense low pressure system spins over the Great Lakes region, ample lift will be provided for storm development today and tonight in our region. The cold front associated with this low pressure system will begin moving into the Commonwealth today, triggering more storms. It looks like we'll have several rounds of thunderstorms, first this morning, another late afternoon, and a final round overnight into early Thursday morning. Threats include isolated tornadoes, damaging wind gusts to 70 mph, and large hail. Torrential downpours and frequent lightning can accompany these storms as well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Potent Storm System Headed Our Way

A huge, intense low pressure storm system is affecting the eastern half of the U.S., stretching from the Dakotas to the Gulf of Mexico. Blizzard Warnings are in effect for North Dakota, where the first snowstorm of the season is occurring with strong wind gusts up to 40-50 mph producing blowing snow. Wind Advisories blanket about a third of the U.S., from the Plains to the Ohio and Mississippi Valley states. But the main threat resulting from this system is severe weather in the form of damaging straight-line winds and isolated tornadoes. Squall lines have developed ahead of the surface cold front, producing wind gusts in excess of 60 and 70 mph. Embedded within these lines, there have also been isolated tornadoes producing even stronger winds. As of this blog entry mid-day Tuesday, there have been multiple tornadoes reported from Wisconsin to Kentucky, and there are tornado warnings ongoing from Ohio to northern Alabama.
In the Mid-Atlantic, we've had several days of good south and southwest flow allowing a surge of warmer, more humid air into our region (especially today!). This Spring-like airmass will be in place for the approaching cold front on Wednesday, leading to strong to severe thunderstorm development in Virginia. Our threats will be the same as what is happening today to our west: damaging straight-line winds around 70 mph, embedded isolated tornadoes, large hail, and torrential downpours. Wednesday afternoon and night will be especially prone to these threats, as the cold front moves into central Virginia. Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Severe T-Storm Watch Until 8PM Monday

A Severe T-Storm Watch is in effect for the yellow highlighted counties in southern Virginia until 8 p.m. Risks include quarter to ping pong sized hail, wind gusts to 70 mph, and lightning. We've had plenty of sunshine this morning and mid-day in central Virginia, which will enable better destabilization of the atmosphere this afternoon than if we had remained overcast. Good south and southwest flow has brought a decent return of low-level moisture into the area. In addition, an upper-level low pressure system is tracking through eastern Kentucky and Tennessee to the northeast, providing upper-level lift and support for storms in our region. We'll be monitoring for any storm development this afternoon and evening. Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.

Severe T-Storm Watch For Southwest Virginia

A storm system approaching the region will bring the risk for strong to severe thunderstorms in southwestern parts of the Commonwealth. If you have plans to travel into this part of the state this morning, thunderstorms may have hail up to the size of quarters, wind gusts to 70 mph, and frequent lightning. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect until 1 p.m. for the highlighted counties above. The risk in the rest of the state is relatively low, as storms are expected to weaken as they track eastward today. But any storms that either sustain themselves or develop this afternoon will have the risk for wind gusts to 70 mph with hail up to quarter-size.
We could get scattered showers and storms this afternoon in central Virginia as the upper low continues to lift northeast and weaken. A stronger upper storm system will dive out of the Plains by mid-week and bring a good chance for rain and thunderstorms to Mid-Atlantic Wednesday into early Thursday. A strong cold front will accompany that system and sweep through the state Thursday, ushering in drier and milder air for the Halloween weekend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Patchy Frost Saturday Morning

A cooler, drier air mass has settled into the region after yesterday's cold front. With clear skies tonight and light winds, temperatures should easily fall into the upper 30s and low 40s in central Virginia. This could cause patchy frost to develop by Saturday morning. There is also a Freeze Watch in effect tonight for western counties along I-81 where temperatures should be coldest in the state in the upper 20s and low 30s.

The Full Hunter's Moon is tonight as well at 9:37 PM EDT. This nickname derives from hunters tracking their prey after dark by the bright light of the full moon. Hunting was vital during this month as people were stockpiling meat supplies before winter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tropical Storm Richard Forms In Caribbean

Tropical Depression #19 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Richard this Thursday morning in the western Caribbean. Maximum sustained winds are just at tropical storm strength at 40 mph (extending out 105 miles to the east of the center), but it shouldn't stay this weak for much longer. It is expected to slowly drift westward into this weekend toward Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, likely strengthening into a hurricane. There is some data indicating that Richard could become a major hurricane over the weekend:
In any case, this will be another strong tropical system to affect this part of the Caribbean and Central America this hurricane season. Richard should dump 4"-8" of rainfall on Jamaica today and tomorrow before moving onto Belize and the Yucatan. Northeastern Honduras may be clipped by the system, but since the strongest winds and heaviest rains are east of the center, Honduras may be spared the brunt of the storm.
Into next week, Richard or its remnants may pass over Florida and southeast of the Carolinas. We'll be monitoring this system for any shift in the extended track.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Colors Looking Good in Virginia

Despite a rough Spring and Summer drought with extreme heat, the Fall foliage is doing well in the Commonwealth! The Virginia Department of Forestry reports that fall colors are showing up in much of the state now, especially in the southwest.

"In Southwest Virginia, colors continue to transition away from green. In the New River Valley, approximately one-quarter to one-third of the trees have color. In the Allegheny Mountains, significant color change can be seen in western Highland County as well as the eastern part of the county. In the Shenandoah Valley, the fall color change is underway. Fall colors continue unfolding in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. At this time, peak colors are expected in the mountains during late October; the Piedmont and Coastal Plain are expected to peak during mid-to-late November." (Oct 14 statement)

Here's the latest foliage report map for our region:
Leaf drop remains low across much of the region, which means the beautiful colors are still on most of our trees.

Email us at, Tweet us @CBS6StormTeam, or Facebook us your Fall foliage pictures. We may show them on air or online in the coming weeks!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Super Typhoon" To Affect Philippines

Typhoon Megi is going to make landfall in northern parts of the Philippines tonight. Sustained winds have been as high as 180 mph with gusts up to 200 mph! In addition, maximum wave height is 37 feet. This is a powerful system that will cause a lot of destruction.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurricane Paula Update Wednesday

Unusually tiny Hurricane Paula continues to drift northward in the Caribbean between the Yucatan Peninsula and western Cuba. It maintains its Category 2 strength as of mid-day Wednesday with 100 mph sustained winds, but hurricane force winds extend out a mere 15 miles from the center of the storm! This is not typical for any hurricane. Even the tropical storm force winds extend out only 60 miles. So this compact, but intense, hurricane will be able to produce wind damage and heavy rainfall (3"-6") over a relatively small area of the Caribbean. Paula is expected to turn east in the coming days and track over Cuba and weaken. However, there is still some potential the outermost edges of the storm could brush the Florida Keys with rain and minimal wind. There is a Tropical Storm Watch for the Keys in case this northern track occurs, which some model data indicates could happen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hurricane Paula: 9th of Season

Early this Tuesday morning Paula reached hurricane strength with 75 mph sustained winds, just at category one on the scale. This is the ninth hurricane of the 2010 season. Paula is drifting northward over good surface warm waters of the western Caribbean, and the center of the storm should remain just east of the Yucatan over the next couple of days, allowing it to maintain its strength at least through mid-week.
After that, though, you can see Paula is expected to begin weakening as it encounters more shear and potentially interacts with western Cuba. The track, however, is still highly uncertain by the end of this week, when Paula could track toward southern Florida.
In any case, it does not appear that Paula or its remnants will have any impact on Virginia's weather in the future.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Foliage

Here is a map of the average peak colors across the region. You can find this also on our main page at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Drought Update

Most of the drought has been erased east of I-95, where last week some areas picked up over 12" of rain. Abnormally dry conditions persist for the western half of the state, however, it has improved compared to a couple weeks ago! Unfortunately there isn't much rain in the extended forecast.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First Freeze Dates

October 29 is the average first freeze date in Richmond. The earliest first freeze was October 3, 1974. The latest freeze was December 2, 1985.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Storm Totals

This is a rough estimate of the rain totals across the region. Richmond received officially 5.94" at RIC. Totals were significantly higher east of I-95, where this storm dumped 9 to 12" in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. The highest total was in Courtland (Southampton County) with 14.3" of rain.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rain Totals

Here is a rough estimate of the rain totals so far with this storm.

Flooding Picture From Fort Eustis

Flash Flood Watch Continues, Tornado Watch For Some Until 7AM

A long moisture plume stretching from Nicole's remnants in the Atlantic continues to spread heavy rains northward through the Commonwealth early this Thursday morning. The Flash Flood Watch remains in effect through this evening, with average rainfall totals of 2"-4", but with higher totals possible around 5" in spots. Overnight we are already getting multiple reports around central Virginia of flooded intersections and poorly drained areas, especially in urban regions. Do not drive your vehicle over water-covered roads. You cannot tell if the road beneath has washed out. Until daylight, please use extra caution if you must travel, as flooding threats are most dangerous in the dark when you cannot see far enough ahead on the road to tell if it is water-covered.

In addition to the flooding threat, there is also the risk for isolated tornadoes in eastern Virginia overnight and through this morning. A Tornado Watch has already been issued for our southeastern area, including Sussex, James City, and Surry Counties, and the City of Williamsburg until 7 a.m. This watch may need to be extended northward into more of the eastern half of Virginia if the threat continues this morning. There have already been three tornado reports in northeast North Carolina overnight. We're in monitoring the threat overnight and all morning! Stay with CBS6, we'll keep you ahead of the storm.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tropical Storm Nicole

Since my last update, Tropical Depression #16 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Nicole at 11AM Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Nicole is tracking over western Cuba and will clip southern Florida today. Nicole will lose its tropical characteristics as it approaches North Carolina tomorrow, meaning that we will receive Nicole's remnants in Virginia through Thursday night. The system is still expected to merge with a frontal boundary along the Southeast and lift rapidly northeast early Friday. The Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for nearly the entire Commonwealth, with 2"-4" of rainfall expected by late Thursday as a result of the moisture plume feeding into Virginia from the Atlantic. Isolated higher totals are possible if any embedded thunderstorms occur, especially along and east of I-95.

Flash Flood Watch Tonight-Thursday

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for nearly the entire Commonwealth for heavy rain expected, mainly tonight through Thursday as Tropical Storm Nicole (just upgraded at 11AM) hurls tropical moisture into the region. Here is the visible satellite image of the storm (the surface center is moving over western Cuba now):
We are already getting our first rounds of rain this Wednesday morning as moisture surges from the Atlantic through the Southeast into Virginia. Periods of heavy rain will be likely off and on the rest of today, so keep your umbrella handy. You can see the cloud-cover expanding into Virginia here:
The prolonged heavy rain event will start overnight and continue most of Thursday as the tropical low pressure system tracks toward Virginia. The low itself will track over Virginia late Thursday into early Friday, ending our rain pre-dawn Friday. Tropical Storm Nicole will rapidly merge with the stalled front along the southeast coastline, which will only enhance moisture transport and heavy rainfall from the Carolinas into Virginia. In Virginia's watch area, 2"-4" is possible through Thursday, with locally lesser and higher amounts possible. Embedded thunderstorms overnight into Thursday would lead to higher local rainfall accumulations. Wind shouldn't be a major concern widespread, as this is a "weak" system wind-wise, with maximum sustained winds right now of 35 mph. In Virginia, we're expecting sustained winds of 10-20 mph in central Virginia, with 20-30 mph sustained winds in the Peninsulas, and 40mph sustained winds in the Bay and Eastern Shore. Flash flooding in heavily paved cities and poorly drained areas will be our main concern overnight through Thursday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tropical Depression #16 Forms

As expected, Tropical Depression #16 was officially designated this morning for the low we've been watching in the northwest Caribbean south of Cuba. TD 16 is just below Tropical Storm strength, and will likely reach that later today or tomorrow and be named Nicole. This system is expected to track over Cuba and southern Florida tomorrow, then hug along the Southeast US Thursday. Heavy rain is possible in the Commonwealth from late Wednesday through Thursday while this system interacts with the surface boundary that will stall along the coast today. This is the front moving through today associated with the potent low pressure system tracking north of us this morning.

More Rain Coming...From The Tropics

A low pressure system in the Caribbean just south of Cuba is becoming better organized early this Tuesday morning. It could become a Tropical Depression or Storm at any time. The next name on our list this year is Nicole. Regardless of what happens with its intensity, we expect this low to track northeast over the next two days, passing over Cuba and Florida, pushing tropical moisture northeast into the Mid-Atlantic Wednesday and Thursday.
It looks like heavy rain will be possible in the Commonwealth mainly on Thursday as a result of this storm system tracking through our area. It will quickly exit northeast late Thursday, and a strong cold front will sweep through from the northwest Friday bringing our first true taste of Fall for the weekend into early next week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slight Risk For Severe Storms

Rounds of welcome rain have been moving through central Virginia overnight, but strong to severe storms will be possible Monday afternoon and tonight. Wind will be the primary threat, but isolated tornadoes could also develop. The strong upper-low pressure storm system responsible for our first significant rainfall since mid-August will lift northward Tuesday, ending our rain and storm chances mid-day. But while ample lift and moisture remain in our region, severe storms are possible. Don't be surprised if you wake up to thunder overnight tonight.
A second storm system will bring more rain late Wednesday and Thursday. This storm is currently in the Caribbean near Cuba, and is expected to track northward through Florida and along the Southeast coastline the next several days, overspreading tropical moisture into Virginia Wednesday and Thursday. You can see the white clouds south of Cuba and east of the Yucatan associated with that broad low pressure system this morning:
This system should result in more much-needed rain in drought-ridden central Virginia.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Watching The Caribbean

Tropical Depression Matthew continues to dissipate over southern Mexico this Sunday morning, but we will be monitoring the Caribbean south of Cuba over the next several days for a potential low pressure system developing. There is some indication that a new tropical system may organize in this region of the Caribbean by Wednesday, and track toward Florida and along the Southeast U.S. coast later this week. However, this scenario is highly uncertain right now, as the system is currently non-existent. Still, we will be monitoring the region and provide updates on any potential impacts this might have for the Commonwealth by the end of the week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Record Heat Continues

We set a new record high in Richmond Friday of 96 degrees, breaking the old record for this date of 95 degrees from 1970. This is about 20 degrees above our average high for this time of the year!

Notable hot Late Summer/Fall records:
Hottest Temperature in October: 99 degrees (Oct 6, 1941)
Latest 100 degree day in the year: September 11, 1983

Here's where we stand year-to-date with our hot temperature tally through Sept 24:
100+ degree days: 10 (new record this year...beat 1954 with 9)
95+ degree days: 40 (new record this year...beat 2002 with 35)
90+ degree days: 77 (new record this year...beat 1977 with 70)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Full Harvest Moon & Jupiter

I shot this photo outside the CBS6 studio at 4 a.m. Thursday of the Full Moon, nicknamed the "Harvest Moon" because it is the full moon nearest to the Autumnal Equinox (this was the first time in nearly 20 years that the Full Moon occurred on the same night of the Autumnal Equinox). To the lower left of the Moon, you can see a bright white light, and that's the planet Jupiter. You can still see the bright planet Jupiter near the Moon the rest of this month.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Goes Out With a Bang

Today was the last day of summer and it was a stormy one for much of western Virginia. A weak upper-level disturbance was enough of a trigger for numerous severe thunderstorms to develop in a hot and humid air mass. Several counties reported wind damage and large hail as the storms moved through. The above photo was taken at Keswick Resort near Charlottesville.

Autumnal Equinox & Full Moon Tonight

Tonight is a "special" one, astronomically speaking, because for the first time in nearly 20 years the Full Moon is on the same night as the Autumnal Equinox. In fact, these two moments occur a mere six hours apart from each other. NASA's Dr. Tony Phillips writes, "There hasn't been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won't happen again until the year 2029." As a result of these two big events occurring on the same night, tonight's full moon has been dubbed the "Super Harvest Moon." The full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is always nicknamed the "Harvest Moon" because farmers rely upon clear skies and the light of the full moon to work past sunset into the night to bring in crops (at least before or without artificial lighting). But astronomers have added the "Super" onto it this year because it is the "ideal" Harvest Moon, occurring at the start of Fall! The Full Moon rises tonight in the east around sunset, and will be overhead at the Autumnal Equinox at 11:09 PM. While you are observing that full moon overnight, you will see a bright white light near it, and that's the planet Jupiter! It's very close to Earth this month.
(A Moon-Jupiter conjunction on Aug. 26, 2010. Credit: Tom Cocchiaro.)
The Autumnal Equinox, or the official start of Fall, is tonight at 11:09 EDT. This is the moment when the Earth's axial tilt is aligned with the Sun, and from our perspective on Earth, the Sun's most direct rays are over the Equator. For the Northern Hemisphere our days become shorter than the nights. The reason why we have seasons is because of that axial tilt I just mentioned. Earth's rotation axis is not perpendicular to its orbital plane, as seen in this diagram:
So as the Earth orbits the Sun in a year, different parts of the Earth will be more "exposed" to the Sun than others, leading to seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The tilt of the Earth never changes, but from our perspective on Earth as we move around the Sun, the Sun appears to be higher or lower in our sky through the year...seasons!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

12th Named Storm of the Season Forms

Tropical Depression #14 strengthened early Tuesday into Tropical Storm Lisa west of the Cape Verde Islands in the east-central Atlantic Ocean. It is just barely at tropical storm strength with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Lisa is drifting north at just 5 mph, and will likely never impact the U.S. It is expected to stay in the open Atlantic for the duration of its life. Its track is highly uncertain right now, though, as seen in this ensemble guidance track plot:
There is some indication in extended forecast data that a tropical system may be closer to the US at the end of this month, so we'll be monitoring those trends in the coming days.